Thursday, 13 May 2010

Hello Tiger!

Tuesday 11th May, 09:00 - 20:30. Stockton reservoir with Jeff Hatt. 6>12>7C. Light NNE but cold!

Twas the night before fishing, and all through the house,
Jobling's stirring up buckets of seeds and liquidized dog muesli in various proportions and in huge quantities in his garage.

On the left we have method mix, on the right - particulates.
I prepared ten litres of method mix using liquidised vitalin, pellet crumb, halibut pellet, particles, chili powder and salt.

The looser particles had seeds, some tigers, small halibut pellet, salt, chili powder, liquid betaine and liquid molasses.

We arrived at Stockton to find a twenty peg match about to get underway. Although this lead to fewer car park spaces than normal there were still plenty of pegs available on the reservoir.

The wind had been northerly and north-easterly for the past week and notwithstanding the cooler temperatures I had the far end of the lake in my minds eye, hoping the fish would move on the wind and away from the disturbance of the match on the board walk (pegs 1-20).

I hoped the NE would funnel the fish to us.
We walked the long way round the lake to the most southerly swims so as not to disturb the matchmen. Despite Jeff's offer of assistance from his free hand I was determined to carry all my own bait buckets and containers. A fisherman should be a self-sufficient beast of burden if nothing else. Partially strangled by shoulder straps and with my grip fading in both hands under a ton of bait we settled into two very likely looking swims in the lakes appendix.

Early doors up windward end and the sun was warm on my face.

Jeff's swim looked really fishy.
I put out a method feeder towards the tree line on the opposite bank. The sploosh as it hit the water offended my senses so much it was laughable. It's like lobbing half a house brick out. Art-less. But I was in the market for a king carp point in our fishing challenge and despite not being suited to sitting behind a rod on an alarm I was happy for this rod to play a sleeper role whilst I focused on a float on the second rod.

Within a few minutes of casting the method ball was receiving attention and on about the fourth cast it produced a carp of eight and a half pounds. I fluffed a take on the third cast forgetting I had to turn the reel handle to engage the drag before picking the rod up!

As the day progressed the cloud built up overhead and we had smatterings of rain. Talk about blowing hot and cold. When the sun came out and the wind dropped it was more than pleasant, when the cloud came over and the wind whipped up it was properly chilly.

Although I caught pretty consistently to the method rod all day it was in fits and starts. For example two fish within fifteen minutes followed by an hour of nothing. I suffered a number of false dawns when I thought things would 'take off' only to find they faded to nothing again shortly afterwards. I put this down to the iffy weather. Catch this place on the tail end of a week of south westerlies and it will produce all day long.

I tried 15mm and 10mm boilies on the method rod but found a tiger nut converted the most interest into a run.

As a total aside I have a hobby horse objection to runs on self-hooking rigs being referred to as 'bites' by carp anglers. In my world a bite is an indication on a tip or float caused by a fish taking the bait into it's mouth. A bite by definition can be 'missed' and requires a strike. A screaming run is not a bite, it's a fish that's hooked itself and is tear-arseing off across the lake. It also doesn't require a strike. I am a little perturbed when I see anglers picking up a screamer and striking into it hard, I think there's just no need.

I found a tiger nut the most effective bait with my method mix.

The sky produced some great light and shade contrasts in the afternoon but believe me it was cold without the sun!

I'll let Jeff tell you about his day, but when the chance arose I took some little before seen action shots of the crack photographer landing his fish.

Jeff's lost his Hat!!
I fished red maggot over particles close in on the float rod and had a steady procession of roach throughout the day. These were interspersed with occasional perch and rudd. As the afternoon wore on the margin came alive with carp and although hooking four under the float each time the hook slipped. Two of the four were certainly foul hooked but the other two were lost due to either brute force on the fishes part or the sanctuary of a nearby wooden platform.

I had my ever-present 10ft Shakespeare wand with me and gave that a go with a light cage feeder for a few hours in the middle of the day. Once again the sensitive tip illuminated movements in the swim but only one proper bite resulted. Now I've used this rod a few times I have become skilled at discerning liners from the bites.

I landed eight carp for just over forty five pounds on the method rod and also a  still water chub. The biggest carp went eleven pounds.

To be honest the most pervasive memory from the day was the mouth damage to one of the carp I caught. The damage was fresh and I'm almost certain it resulted from my capture. The damage took the form of a slit to the left side of the fishes mouth. The fish was landed on the method rod and was hooked on the inside left of the mouth and so I could see how the damage could have occurred during the fight. As I've said before I don't regularly use modern carp tactics and can honestly say I've never even suspected I might be the cause of such damage to a fish before. It didn't feel good and I will seek to make the necessary rig adjustments in future to eliminate this. The fish themselves are the ultimate source of all enjoyment in our sport and we each have a duty to return them to the water unharmed and in the same condition they were before they slipped up.

I recall Jeff too was subjected to an eye-watering moment during this session but once again I'll leave it to his discretion whether or not to disclose the painful story.

To lighten the mood somewhat I'll conclude by relating Jeff's appeasement strategy with two disruptive swans which took a serious liking to the floating seeds emitted from my particle mix and which were unfortunately being blown downwind into his swim.

Jeff took direct action by walking a few hundred yards up the bank holding a slice of bread. The swans dutifully followed him of course, sensing the free scoff. Once Jeff had broken the bread and the swans had fed (no wine in this ceremony) he returned to his peg. A sound peace-offering you might think. I've done you a favour now do me one in return and leave me in peace for half an hour eh?

Rule No. 1 : Never feed a bloody swan.

Of course now the swans now considered Jeff to be a member of their own family. A giver of food.  Flesh and blood if you will.

And in essence that was the end of that. They followed his every movement until packing up time like devoted disciples.

Jeff's new bezzy mates.
Nil points betwixt but an almost entirely enjoyable day.



  1. Sounds like a good day out Keith, any idea what won the match?

  2. Sorry Steve, didn't hear. They left en masse and didn't have the need to pass us on the way out.